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Les Voiles de St. Barth 2012: Tight at the top

April 05, 2012

Today´s Les Voiles de St. Barth fleet saw better breeze with a variable 8-12 knot easterly which provided all classes with a right chance to perform. The race committee chose well again – reaching into their bag of 25+ courses and selecting picture postcard worthy courses around the northwestern end of the island as well as neighboring islets: 20-nautical mile for the Maxi and IRC 52 classes, and 17 miles for all of the other classes.

Sailing yachts racing at Les Voiles de St barth Credit Christophe Jouany

Sailing yachts racing at Les Voiles de St Barth Credit: Christophe Jouany

Classic Beauties
The first off the line were Classic and Non-Spinnaker Racing classes. With several dropouts before the regatta began, the Classic class was reduced to two, but you couldn’t have come up with two more standout beauties than the Olin Stephens-designed yawl Dorade and the Fife-built 80-foot yacht Mariella.

The 52’ sailing yacht Dorade was originally launched in 1930 and was considered, then and now, a breakthrough in yacht racing design. Purchased by American Matt Brooks three years ago, Dorade underwent an extensive refit in Rhode Island to ready the boat for a return to ocean racing. Brooks is keen to repeat all of Dorade’s early races, starting with the Newport Bermuda race in June.

Jamie Hilton, tactician on board, said, “What is unique is that you are sailing a boat that is one of the richest pieces of yacht racing history and then at the same time you are trying to race her hard and be cognizant of what it is we are sailing on.” Brooks’ wife Pam, added, “Our goal is to take her back to what she was designed to do.  We want other people who own classic yachts to be encouraged to do that too.”

In the Non-Spinnaker Racing class, Antiguan Bernie Evan-Wong, High Tension, is leading overall, though at press time a protest was pending. Only a point back is Ben Jelic’s J/120 sailing yacht Jaguar Island Water World from St. Maarten.

Next off was Spinnaker Racing 1, with 19 boats the biggest class, and one rife with competition. Leading after two days is Sergio Sagramoso’s J/122 yacht Lazy Dog with two bullets, followed by Frits Bus’ Melges 24 yacht Coors Light with two 2nd place finishes.

Better breeze for today´s racing

Better breeze for today´s racing

Decision vs Defiance
The Martin 49 sailing yacht Defiance is making its first appearance at Les Voiles de St. Barth, along with chartering skipper Clay Deutsch and his crew. But Deutsch is no stranger to the Caribbean racing circuit where he campaigned his Swan 68 yacht Chippewa – very successfully – until he sold it three years ago.

Boatless, he didn’t need much encouragement to get back on the race course, “We had done the St. Topez regatta and for years I dreamed of a St Barth’s regatta, and the moment I sold my boat the regatta started! Tony (his captain on Chippewa) knows I have always fantasized about this regatta and he called when he knew this boat became available.  This is the first time in St Barth’s for almost all of my crew, and they are just blown away – it’s like sailing in the Med!”

At the start of Spinnaker Racing 2, both the newly launched Carkeek 40 Decision and Defiance were keeping tabs on the other. Deutsch said, “ We had a good start with Dee (Smith, Decision’s tactician) calling the shots. They took us right to weather, so we tried to stay clear. The nice thing with this boat is it accelerates shockingly fast. No question they had the advantage at the start, and they threw dirt at us for most of the weather leg. They had a nice lead early on.” A lead they would hold until the races final miles where the fleet rounded the rock of Le Pain du Sucre.

Defiance’s crew could see both Rambler and Decision struggle in the lighter breeze there. Deutsch continued, “We were pacing ourselves with Decision, a quick, well-sailed boat. We got lucky, everyone else got stood up in there, so we kind of took the great circle route and had good breeze all the way around. And we made up a minute and a half deficit at the rock.”

“We are kind of optimizing the boat as we go. We did get two practice days, which gives a lot and we did as much rig tuning as we could, which is a big deal with these kinds of conditions. I think we have the boat set up really well. The boat has a lifting keel, a bow thruster, and a full interior; I’m shocked the boat is as fast as it is. It is impressive to sail this fast in light air.”

Rambling on

In the Maxi class, George David’s 90-foot superyacht Rambler, continues to ramble away relatively unchallenged, maintaining both the line honours and corrected time lead after two days. Just behind is the Swan 80 luxury yacht Selene and the 112-foot Baltic Niyala superyacht.

For the three boats in the IRC52 class, it’s close racing with lead changes, and no completely clear winner yet. In today’s race, Powerplay won by 1m 20sec, while Vesper led Mayhem by only eight seconds.

Leading after two days is Peter Cunningham’s Powerplay, “It was fantastic, it was nail biting around the course. There were big shifts, both velocity and directional. Tony (Rey, tactician) made some great calls, and with Nacho Postigo (navigator) and Jeff Madrigali (strategist) they just get together and have a great brains trust going, and I just do what I’m told!

Cunningham sails regularly on San Francisco Bay where the wind is very predictable and steady with small oscillations. He continued, “This variable stuff is much more challenging racing – but it’s beautiful, you’ve got the islands, the rocks, the water. It’s truly a beautiful place.”

Tomorrow is a layday for competitors, with a full day of activities planned at Nikki Beach. Racing continues on Friday, with two races planned and a first start at 11:00am.

Les Voiles de Saint Barth 2012
3rd edition, from 2 – 8 April 2012
65 yachts
7 classes:
IRC 52

700 international sailors

Naples America´s Cup World Series training starts over the Easter Weekend

April 04, 2012

Sailors from around the world are coming to Naples, Italy as training starts for the fourth yacht regatta in the 2011/12 America’s Cup World Series. The Event Village opens on April 7 and training is held over the Easter Weekend. Championship Racing takes place from April 11 to 15.

Naples America´s Cup World Series training starts over the Easter Weekend

Naples America´s Cup World Series training starts over the Easter Weekend © ACEA 2012/ Photo Gilles Martin-Raget

The top sailing teams in the world will be competing in Naples. The event will feature nine boats from seven countries, including: Luna Rossa Challenge (Italy), with two boats, helmsmen to be revealed April 4; Artemis Racing (Sweden), skipper Terry Hutchinson; China Team (China), skipper Fred Le Peutrec; Emirates Team New Zealand (New Zealand), skipper Dean Barker; Energy Team (France), helmsmen Yann Guichard; ORACLE Racing (USA) with two boats, skippers James Spithill and Darren Bundock; and Team Korea (Korea) with skipper Nathan Outteridge.

Racing is expected to be extremely close, with fierce battle lines already drawn between Emirates Team New Zealand and ORACLE Racing Spithill, who are separated by just one point on the season championship table after the first three AC World Series events.

The World Series talent pool is deeper than ever before with teams recruiting new athletes since the last event at San Diego in November. “I think a lot of the teams will be in the hunt and I think it will be tougher than the regattas last year,” says Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker.

While two crews from Luna Rossa Challenge join the field, two of last year’s teams will not be competing in Naples. France’s Aleph has withdrawn from the AC World Series and the 34th America’s Cup, and Spain’s Green Comm Racing has informed Regatta Director Iain Murray that it will not be participating in Naples.

Les Voiles de Saint-Barth 2012: Day 1

April 04, 2012

Tuesday, the first day of racing at Les Voiles de St. Barth 2012, dawned with flags lightly streaming, instilling hope that there would be enough wind. After studying the range of course choice, the race committee settled on a 17-nautical miler that kept the fleet entirely along the southern coast, where the pressure held.

Sailing yacht Water World vs Superyacht Dragon around  Jaguar Island © Christophe Jouany

Sailing yacht Water World vs Superyacht Dragon around Jaguar Island © Christophe Jouany

The race committee was quite pleased to get all seven classes off the line in the five starts. The faster boats the Maxis and the IRC 52s managed to sail the complete course, while the smaller, slower boats would find their race shortened, to finish at the Roche le Boeuf, off Gustavia.

Les Voiles de Saint-Barth 2012 - Fleet racing downwind © Christophe Jouany

Les Voiles de Saint-Barth 2012 - Fleet racing downwind © Christophe Jouany

At press time, provisionally the class leaders were: Lazy Dog (Spinnaker 1), Defiance (Spinnaker 2), Sailing yacht Dorade (Classic), Paradox (Multi), and the J/120, Jaguar Island Water World (Non-Spinnaker). Ten boats did not finish before the 1800 local time limit.

Around the Race Course

The Maxi and IRC52 classes were combined for their start. All three 52s put themselves at the pin end with Jim Swartz Vesper leading off the line, followed by Ashley Wolfes Mayhem, and Peter Cunninghams Powerplay to weather. The addition of eleven Maxis on the upwind beat played a role too, allowing Mayhem to continue heading inshore, while the other two 52s were forced to tack out.

Tony Rey, tactician on Powerplay said, “We have our three-boat fleet in IRC, but were starting with all the maxis and super yachts. We were on the bad end of an exchange with three of them and had to do big dips. That put us from controlling the two boats to suddenly being third. But, we made the most of it and chipped away. We had three lead changes in our little group: its a good sign of a great week coming that there’s close racing in six knots of wind. As soon as the breeze comes up at the end of the week (as forecast), it’s going to be dynamite! Mayhem held on to finish 1st, followed by Powerplay and Vesper, which caught some of the ubiquitous Sargassum seaweed around their keel and had to stop and clear it off.”

Les Voiles de Saint-Barth 2012 Maxi Class © Christophe Jouany

Les Voiles de Saint-Barth 2012 Maxi Class © Christophe Jouany

One of the boats that Powerplay had to duck was the Baltic 112 Niyala sailing yacht, which finished 2nd to S/Y Rambler in the eleven-boat Maxi class. Dockside, tactician Bouwe Bekking recounted, “The forecast was bad there was no wind expected. And to our big surprise, there was 10-11 knots, so it was the right call of the race committee to let us go. And it went well for us. Given the displacement, it’s really hard to sail against Rambler because Niyala weighs 90 tons and they weigh about 30 tons, so when the breeze started dropping, they just accelerated away from us. But apples for apples, we did very good against the other cruising/racing boats.”

Sailing yacht Firefly racing at Les Voiles de Saint-Barth 2012 © Christophe Jouany

Sailing yacht Firefly racing at Les Voiles de Saint-Barth 2012 © Christophe Jouany

Boats to Watch

Les Voiles Spinnaker 2 class has a diverse mix of competitive boats, including several Swans, a Volvo 60, an X-Yacht, a Pogo 10.5, and the Carkeek 40 Decision. Designed by South African yacht designer Sean Carkeek, the boat was built by McConaghy in China for father and son Stephen Murray, Sr. and Jr.

Skipper Stephen Murray, Jr., hails from New Orleans, Louisiana. His father Steve Murray, Sr., sails on the boat as well. Sailing as tactician is Steve Benjamin, who will take delivery of hull #2 of the 40-foot design. Skipper Stephen Murray, Jr., has had past success in other classes, winning the 2010 IRC East Coast Championships, the SORC overall, and the Star class districts. Of his newest boat, Decision, Murray says, “It’s everything we’d hoped for and then some. It’s like a miniaturized 52, but more powerful for its relative size.”

The Carkeek 40 design is inspired by the High Performance Rule (HPR). Carkeek, who is on the technical committee for HPR, said, I designed it based on my experience designing TP52s (of which he has designed 15). Boats smaller than 50 feet dont generally rate well under IRC.

Decision was launched last fall and recently competed at the International Rolex Regatta in St. Thomas, where it was doing well before breaking the bowsprit. With just a week to affect a repair and deliver the boat from St. Thomas, getting to the start line in St. Barths was quite an achievement.

Racing continues tomorrow with an 11:00am start.

Sailing yacht Sojana Whisper Les Voiles de Saint-Barth 2012 © Christophe Jouany

Sailing yacht Sojana Whisper Les Voiles de Saint-Barth 2012 © Christophe Jouany

Les Voiles de Saint Barth 2012 3rd edition, from 2 7 April 2012

65 boats
7 classes:
IRC 52
700 international sailors

Dubois Designed superyachts excel at the 2012 Caribbean Regattas

April 04, 2012

Dubois Yachts are celebrating after Dubois designed sailing yachts excelled in both the 2012 St. Barths Bucket Regatta and the Loro Piana Caribbean Superyacht Regatta and Rendezvous.

Lorro Piana Caribbean Superyacht Regatta - Credit Dubois Yachts

Lorro Piana Caribbean Superyacht Regatta - Credit Dubois Yachts

Dubois designed superyachts dominated the numbers at both sailing yacht events with an impressive 10 yachts racing in St. Barths, from a total fleet of 46, and 5 of the 13 competing yachts at the Loro Piana regatta in Virgin Gorda.

Dubois designed sailing yachts at the 2012 St. Barth's Bucket Regatta

Dubois designed sailing yachts at the 2012 St. Barth's Bucket Regatta

The Loro Piana Caribbean Superyacht Regatta and Rendezvous in Virgin Gorda was in its second year and drew an exclusive fleet of both race-orientated yachts and performance cruisers, complemented 12 motor yachts spectating at the superyacht event.

“We were delighted to see Salperton, Bliss, Ganesha, Zefira and Lady B being sailed so well. This excellent event will no doubt attract more yachts in the future – and we expect more Dubois designs as well.” Comment Dubois yachts in a recent press release.

Superyacht Salperton by Dubois at the St Barth Bucket Regatta

Superyacht Salperton by Dubois at the St Barth Bucket Regatta

The St. Barths Bucket drew a broad field of sailing yacht types. The most recent Dubois designed sailing yacht Lady B, had great success, winning her class and placing second overall. First place was won by the separately handicapped classic sailing yacht This Is Us.

The 45m Lady B sailing yacht boasted an impressive sailing performance thanks to Dubois’ expertise in design and naval architecture. She sailed conservatively and in the knowledge that her pace would never force risky manoeuvres. She looked spectacular from every point of view.

Sailing yacht Lady B won her class and placed second overall at the St Barths Bucket Regatta 2012

Sailing yacht Lady B won her class and placed second overall at the St Barths Bucket Regatta 2012

Mike Golding, helmsman of the Lady B superyacht noted after the regatta “that boat’s got legs”

Congratulations must also go to the Dubois designed sailing yacht Ganesha and S/Y Twizzle, who placed second and third in the Mademoiselles Class. The yachts were sailed beautifully and the crews have taken big boat racing to new levels.

In the year 2000, Ed Dubois sailed his first Bucket Regatta with one Dubois designed sailing yacht, against a handful of other yachts competing. Fast forward 12 years and what an endorsement to the Dubois designed sailing yachts and a wonderful demonstration of the broad and lasting appeal of yachts designed by the British design firm.

Other yachts were also sailed very well – the newly owned KOO sailing yacht showed her paces together with S/Y Genevieve, charter yacht Bliss, charter yacht Moonbird, S/Y Desitnation, Salperton yacht and Zefira.

Dubois designed sailing yacht ZEFIRA

Dubois designed sailing yacht ZEFIRA

At anchor in the bay spectating were other elegant Dubois superyachts including S/Y Inmocean, sail yacht Artemis and the mighty superyacht Kokomo launched in 2010.

We wish the owners of the Dubois superyachts a wonderful season ahead, whether they are staying on the Caribbean, cruising to America, or heading to the Western Mediterranean for private use or for the upcoming charter season.

View a gallery of Dubois designed sailing yacht images below, or contact a CharterWorld consultant here for details on luxury yacht charter availability.

Oyster Regatta British Virgin Islands 2012

April 04, 2012

Twenty-five beautiful examples of Oyster sailing yachts have gathered in the idyllic Caribbean setting of the British Virgin Islands for the 28th event in the Oyster Regatta series. The dockside at Nanny Cay Marina was a hive of activity today, as crews meticulously prepared their yachts for the Concours d’Elegance. The magnificent Oyster sailing yacht fleet has been given a very warm welcome by the team at Nanny Cay Marina, a glorious safe haven on the south western coast of Tortola, where the Oyster Customer Service team has been in attendance to assist the fleet for several days prior to the start of the regatta.

Oyster Regatta BVI at Nanny Cay Marina, BVI © Todd vanSickle

Oyster Regatta BVI at Nanny Cay Marina, BVI © Todd vanSickle

Proving that Oyster regattas are as popular as ever with owners, this event showcases 12 different examples of the distinctive Oyster range, from the Oyster 46 to the Oyster 82. At the Skippers’ Briefing, Oyster Chief Executive, David Tydeman, welcomed all the competitors. “It is great to have you all here and we are all looking forward to an immensely enjoyable event, it is nice to see some regular attendees but it is especially nice to welcome nine Oysters and their owners who are joining us at an Oyster regatta for the first time. We will be visiting some of the Virgin Islands most prestigious locations, including the new YCCS clubhouse on Virgin Gorda, which is the Caribbean home of the famous Sardinian club, which hosted our Jubilee Regatta in 2010.”

For the welcome party, Oyster sailing yacht owners and their guests gathered at the renowned Peg Legs restaurant at Nanny Cay Marina for a complimentary cocktail party sponsored by Nanny Cay Marina, followed by an excellent Caribbean buffet. Conversation cantered on the week ahead, especially the fantastic experience of meandering through the gorgeous islands and the fabulous parties at spectacular venues. The British Virgin Islands consists of over 60 tropical islands of breath-taking beauty, which are considered to be some of the best cruising grounds anywhere in the world.

Chris and Susan Shea, proud owners of the Oyster 72, charter yacht Magrathea are regular visitors to Oyster Regattas. The Magrathea yacht crew is all Shea family members and their yacht has been in the Caribbean since crossing the Atlantic last November. “The name Magrathea is an imaginary planet from the radio series ‘A Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’.” Laughed Chris. “It’s really poking fun at life and we have a lot of enjoyment with our Oyster so it seemed very apt, we even have the number 42 on our spinnaker. In the radio series, the number 42 is the answer to the ultimate question of life and sailing our Oyster is ultimately what we love to do! We really like the BVI, it has some fabulous scenery and there are so many places and islands to visit, all very close by.”

The Oyster BVI Regatta programme includes four races in the spectacular islands. Oyster regattas are organised exclusively for owners and their guests and besides well-managed racing, the fleet benefits from world-class customer service and technical support, provided by experienced Oyster staff and their regatta partners; Dolphin Sails, Formula Marine, Lewmar, Pantaenius, Pelagos Yachts, Raymarine, Reckmann and Yachting World.

The on the water action starts, Tuesday 3rd April with a race from Nanny Cay and finishing at Cane Garden Bay, where Oyster owners and their guests will enjoy cocktails on the beach followed by a barbeque supper at Myetts Garden Inn. The beach at Cane Garden Bay is considered to be one of the finest in the Caribbean. Especially famed for snorkeling, protected by a live reef the crystal clear warm waters are teaming with sea life. Myetts Garden Inn is a tremendous location, set amongst coconut palms and almond trees overlooking the white sandy beach and the Oyster fleet at anchor.

Rolex China Sea Race 2012 to start tomorrow

April 03, 2012

Preparations at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club are well underway for Asia’s premier Category 1 Offshore race, set to start tomorrow, April 4th, with 26 competitors on the start line. The diverse fleet varies from the sole participating Dubois 90 Maxi, Geoff Hill’s sailing yacht Genuine Risk, to the many 50 and 40-footers racing for the China Sea Race Trophy on corrected time, including Defending Champion Neil Pryde and his team on Hi Fi.

Skipper's and weather briefing at the Rolex Hong Kong Yacht Club Photo by RolexDaniel Forster

Skipper's and weather briefing at the Rolex Hong Kong Yacht Club - Photo by Rolex/Daniel Forster

Genuine Risk yacht, a Dubois 90 Maxi owned by Geoff Hill, is seen as the pre-race favourite for the line honours finish. Hill is no stranger to the Rolex China Sea Race, having raced since 2004, and whilst he has enjoyed every race so far, he admits “perhaps less so in 2008 when we lost the keel on Strewth.” Genuine Risk is a step up for Hill as she is nearly double the size of the TP52 sailing yacht Strewth. With a canting keel, a 16-foot draft, huge sails and enormous power, Hill and his crew will be dealing with a very different machine this time around.

“There are 24 people that are going to be on this boat,” explained Hill, “that’s double what I would have taken to Hobart this year [for the Rolex Sydney Hobart]. For us, the biggest challenge is definitely getting the boat up to its full potential in a one-week period. Preparation is really important and the sea is unforgiving, so we have to make sure we do it right.”

When asked about his predicted line honours win, Hill said, “We may be favourites for line honours, but you can’t underestimate Neil Pryde; he’s a very good sailor, he’s competitive, he’s got a very good crew and he has optimized his boat, so I would think that he is the favourite for handicap. But that is what is interesting about this race: you just never know who it will be. The weather will actually determine who wins on handicap, because there are just so many variable patterns.”

Race veteran Neil Pryde has participated in nearly every edition of the Rolex China Sea Race since 1968 and his Welbourn 52 yacht Hi Fi has been extremely successful offshore, counting line honours for the 2008 and 2010 editions of the Rolex China Sea Race, and overall winner in 2010, among her achievements.

Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club by night  Photo by RolexDaniel Forster

Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club by night - Photo by Rolex/Daniel Forster

Pryde admits that, “the challenging conditions developing as the race crosses the South China Sea make the smaller boats in the fleet tough to beat.” Pryde sees the TP52s as his toughest competition, including Sam Chan’s FreeFire (Hong Kong) and Jelik V, which will be crewed by a visiting all-Filipino team headed up by Ernesto “Judes” Echauz. Echauz won the 2008 Rolex China Sea Race IRC Overall with his boat, Subic Centennial.

Weather forecasts announced at today’s skipper’s briefing look promising for a sparkling start in Victoria Harbour, with Easterly winds predicted between 15- 25 knots. “The breeze can typically be strong leaving Hong Kong but, once the yachts head south-easterly across the sea, it’s a question of staying in the breeze – which can often go light approaching the Philippine coast and finish,” explained Race Chairman Richard Strompf. “The results will be heavily influenced by which boat selects the best tactics and course as they reach the Philippine coast.”

2012 marks the golden anniversary of the first race. “Fifty years is a significant milestone for any sailing event,” said RHKYC Commodore Ambrose Lo, “and the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club is proud that in that time, the 565-nautical mile course from Hong Kong to the Philippines has grown from its first race to become, not only the RHKYC’s flagship sailing event, but also an event that is widely recognised as Asia’s premier offshore race. This Asian blue-water classic was the first Asian sailing event sponsored by Rolex back in 2008. With Rolex’s support, this race has further increased attention within the international yachting fraternity and is of great significance to Hong Kong and the region.”

The 2012 Rolex China Sea Race will start in Victoria Harbour at 12:10 (warning signal at noon) on April 4th, but in case of light wind in the Harbour the venue for the start may change.

ORACLE Racing announces crews for Naples America’s Cup World Series

April 03, 2012

The team’s two AC45 catamaran yachts ORACLE Racing Spithill as well as ORACLE Racing Bundock will be skippered, respectively, by Jimmy Spithill and Darren Bundock. Spithill will compete with his regular crew of John Kostecki (tactician), Dirk de Ridder (wingsail trimmer), Joe Newton (headsail trimmer) and Piet van Nieuwenhuyjzen (bow).

ORACLE Racing team

ORACLE Racing team

In sweeping the two championships of the America’s Cup World Series San Diego, ORACLE Racing Spithill (main picture) couldn’t have concluded 2011 in a more resounding way. The crew heads into Naples 1 point off the overall lead for the 2011-’12 season championship.

“I’ve spent a lot of time in Italy, but have never been to Naples before,” said Spithill, the youngest skipper (30 years) to ever win the America’s Cup. “The series is getting more competitive at each event. It all comes down to the final Sunday and winning that. We’re looking forward to it.”

Bundock (helm, left image) debuted at the helm of an AC45 at ACWS San Diego last November. His crew in Naples will be a mix of newcomers and veterans: Tom Slingsby (tactics), Kyle Langford (wingsail trimmer), Simon Daubney (headsails) and Simeon Tienpont (bow).

“San Diego didn’t go as well as I would’ve liked, but we’ve had two very useful training sessions in San Francisco and I think we’ll have a better showing in Naples,” said Bundock, the double Olympic silver medalist (2000, ’08) in the Tornado class.

“We know the boat is fast, it’s won two of the three speed trials, so I’m excited about Naples and getting back to racing,” Bundock said. At ACWS San Diego, ORACLE Racing Bundock set the speed trial record time of 36.16 seconds over the 500-meter course for a top speed of 26.87 knots.

Slingsby and Langford are two of the young guns in the team. Slingsby, 27, has his sights set on winning a Gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics in the Laser class. Langford, 22, is a past youth world champion (2005) in the multihull class and a past Australian Youth Sailor of the Year (2006).

“I’m amazed at how physical the AC45 is,” said Langford. “It’s really a challenge to keep your mind focused on trimming the wing, looking up the course, tailing all the lines that need tending and keeping your heart rate in check. It’s great, athletic sailing.”

Slingsby will be arriving in Naples fresh from the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Palma, where he raced the Laser in preparation for the Olympics. “We worked a lot on our communication and team work in the training sessions in San Francisco,” said Slingsby. “I’ve heard Naples is a light-air venue, but from what we’ve seen the weather changes daily. It’ll be good to get back on the water.”

The two bullets in San Diego put ORACLE Racing Spithill within 1 point of the overall series lead. ORACLE Racing Bundock is tied for fourth overall. After ACWS Naples, regattas follow in Venice, Italy, from May 15 to 20 and Newport, R.I. from June 27 to July 1 to conclude the 2011-12 ACWS season.

41st BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival: A Grand Finale

April 03, 2012

A southeasterly breeze of about 12-15 knots coming from Dead Chest Island, offered shifty conditions for a tense last day of racing at the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival. On Sunday, April 1 all classes competed in the Sir Francis Drake Channel outside Nanny Cay and there was plenty of traffic to fight with. Probably the most important factor was staying in clear air and spotting the shifts as they whipped over and around the chain of islands on the south side of the Channel.

Spectacular scenery on the race course at the BVI Spring Regatta

Spectacular scenery on the race course at the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival where warm water and hot racing are guaranteed Credit: Todd vanSickle/BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival

Regatta Chairman, Bob Phillips has been on the water every day during the regatta and he is rightly proud of the 2012 edition: “Above all, sailors love sailing and the BVI Spring Regatta has an excellent race area. In the present economic climate an entry of 100 boats has got to be seen as a success, especially as we have attracted larger yachts including seven Swans and the STP 65 sailing yacht Equation. However, the BVI Spring Regatta & Festival is not just about the big boats. This year the event celebrates its 41st year and it has always been about providing good racing for a wide variety of people on the race course and great entertainment back on the shore.”

In the Multihull Class, Peter Aschenbrenner’s ballistic trimaran yacht Paradox, was the comfortable winner. This is Peter’s first regatta although he is no stranger to the BVI: “This is my fourth trip to the BVI. It’s such a spectacular place and I have to say that we have really enjoyed the regatta, largely because of the courses that we have been given, especially mixing it up with the keelboat fleet on the second day. It would be great to have some other multihulls of the same speed. The atmosphere at the regatta is excellent, we would just like a bit more competition.”

In Class 1, clear air at the start is something that Stefan Lehnert’s Tripp 56 yacht Passion 4C has been wanting throughout the regatta, but Bill Alcott’s STP65, Equation has just too much speed. Although Passion 4C have started well all week, the German team was not able to hold their lane. However, two short windward leeward races today favoured Passion 4C and the German team put in a perfect performance to finish the regatta in style winning both races. Jason Putley was spotted on board Equation today, a big treat for the 13-year-old BVI bowman.

Nanny Cay Resort

Nanny Cay Resort, Marina & Boatyard Credit: Todd vanSickle/BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival

In Class 2, Peake Yacht Service, RP37 yacht Slippery took the first race of the day to put pressure on class leader, Willem Wester’s Grande Soleil 46 yacht Antilope. The two Farr 400s pinned Antilope out on the left of the course and Slippery got away well on the favoured right side and covered Antilope from the front, effectively slowing them down. However, Antilope came back strongly in the last two races to take the class title. Blade won the battle of the Farr 400s, beating Magnitude in all three races today.

In Class 3, Richard Wesslund’s J/120 yacht El Ocaso put in another solid performance, scoring a win in the first race and two 2nd places to clinch the class win. El Ocaso has not scored out of the top three in the nine race series. Jaime Torres’ First 40 sailing yacht Smile and Wave has a conventional spinnaker pole and today’s windward leeward racing is probably what the Puerto Ricans wanted all week. However the team will take great satisfaction is scoring two wins today. Ondeck’s First 40 yacht Lancelot II skippered by Chris (Jacko) Jackson claimed third. In the Melges 24 division, Andrea Scarabelli’s Budget Marine/Gill from St.Martin held off local BVI team, Fire Water skippered by Henry Leonnig.

In Class 5, Ian Hope-Ross First 36.7 yacht Kick ‘em Jenny corrected out to win the first race of the day and two further podium finishes secured the class win for the team from St.Martin.

Kevin Rowlette’s Olson 30 yacht Rushin’ Rowlette sailed extremely well today and was rewarded with two race wins but the Tortolans had to settle for second place for the class, but Kevin Rowlette was delighted to be named best BVI Boat at the regatta winning the Premier’s Cup: ‘It’s been a lot of fun, great sailing on an interesting variety of courses and we were really in with a good chance of winning the Class, but losing a guy over the side with the spinnaker up doing 10 knots put an end to that, but we got him back on board okay. It is really an honour to be named best BVI boat as there are so many good BVI teams at this regatta.”

Bill Alcott

Bill Alcott/Ed Palm/Tom Anderson's STP 65 Farr sailing yacht Equation win Class 1 Credit: Todd vanSickle

In Class 7, there was a dramatic change to the overnight standings. Class leader, Henry van Melle’s J/46 Jent went from 1st overall to 3rd. Andy Middleton’s First 47.7 yacht Global Yacht Racing scored three podium finishes to clinch second place in the class but it was a very happy Christian Reynolds on the dock after today’s racing. His Swan 51 sailing yacht Northern Child scored two wins and a 2nd to win the class:

“With light weather and windward leeward courses, I knew Andy (Middleton) was the biggest threat today,” admitted Reynolds. “Jent has small headsails to reduce her rating and we thought they wouldn’t go well in the light, but I have to put a lot of credit down to our crew. It was busy out there and we had to keep concentrating and pulling off the maneuvers and we knew that would put us in with a chance. Winning at this regatta is very special, it really is a lot of fun and we fully intend to fill the trophy with Mount Gay Rum tonight and celebrate long into the evening.”

In Class 8, Warren Thring’s Cold Beer raised a cheer scoring their first podium finish of the regatta but Antonio Sanpere’s J/36 yacht Cayennita Grande won the first race today by a huge margin to secure the class win.

In Class 9 Jon Charlton & Claude Bonanni’s Team Red Stripe won today’s only race. However, Keith Smith LiGreci’s Girasoli came 2nd, which was enough to secure the class win: “This is the first major regatta with the boat and we are absolutely delighted to win our class,” said Keith. “Although Girasoli is new this year, the team have been sailing together for years with Bill Berardelli who passed away recently and I would like to dedicate this win to his memory, he was a great guy.”

In the IC24 Class, Frits Bus finished the 14-race series in style to clinch the overall victory with Andrew Waters’, Conch-Querer second. There was an intense battle for the last podium position between Peter Houtzagers’ Satisfaction and David Irwins’ Grey Ghost; Satisfaction won the encounter by a single point.

In Bareboat 1, Dick Backstom’s Soul Mates finished the regatta on a high winning the last race. However the class title goes to Christine Joseph’s Sexy and We Know It. Tijmen van Elst’s BK Grondlogistiek takes second with Soul Mates third.

In Bareboat 2, Neil Harvey’s Acadia won today’s race and an outstanding protest was dropped giving Acadia the overall class title. Bill Petersen & Peter Stazicker’s Team Trolly Car were second overall and Rob Swain Sailing School racing Perelandra scored a third in today’s race to win a close battle with Team Cape Fear and AvalonRacing, to take 3rd place for the regatta.

In the Bareboat Class the winner of the International Yacht Club Challenge is BK Grondlogistiek representing the IJmuidenYacht Club in Holland, winning the substantial prize of a week’s free charter in the BVI from Sunsail. The second prize of two round trip tickets from Cape Air goes to Avalon Racing representing the Caernarfonshire Yacht Club in Wales.

The Prizegiving on Sunday´s evening brought the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival to a close, with a presence of 2,000 revelers and cabaret provided by Moko Jumbies striding through the beachside tents on giant stilts. Live music from Gazebo lighted the blue touch paper with a set including reggae, rock & roll and rock anthems.

2012 Les Voiles de St Barth: BACK FOR MORE

April 03, 2012

On the eve of the third running of Les Voiles de St. Barth, April 2-7, the palm-fringed port of Gustavia, St. Barthlemy quickly filled with an impressive array of race boats: ocean-racing maxis including the 90-foot sailing yacht Rambler and the Swan 112, charter yacht Highland Breeze; classic beauties such the Olin Stephen-designed Dorade sailing yacht and the Fife-built yawl Mariella; a trio of IRC 52s, multi-hulls including the 66 Gunboat Phaedo, and two large racing classes with a mix of Melges, J/boats, and a mix of 40-footers, including the hot-off-the-press Carkeek 40, Decision.

Sailing yacht Nilaya heads out for practice prior to the start of Les Voiles de St Barth © Christophe Jouany  Les Voiles de St. Barth

Sailing yacht Nilaya heads out for practice prior to the start of Les Voiles de St Barth © Christophe Jouany Les Voiles de St. Barth

Over 60 boats are registered for this year’s edition, up from with a large number of returning entries, proof that the regatta has filled the need for spirited competition towards the end of the winter season a time when tourism typically begins to wind down in the Caribbean. Though that was hard to tell yesterday, at the islands tiny airport, as the steady stream of small commuter planes landing were filled with a duffle bag-wielding collection of sailors from the ranks of the Americas Cup, round-the-world-ocean races, and Olympic competition, that included Gavin Brady (Vesper), Scott Vogel (Rambler), Bouwe Bekking (yacht Nilaya), Cam Lewis (Paradox), Charlie McKee and Ross MacDonald (Mayhem), Tony Rey, Jeff Madrigali, and Nacho Postigo (Powerplay), and Dee Smith (Decision).

Gustavia Harbour on the eve of the start of Les Voiles de St Barth - Credit Christophe Jouany Les Voiles de St. Barth

Gustavia Harbour on the eve of the start of Les Voiles de St Barth - Credit Christophe Jouany Les Voiles de St. Barth

But it’s not just the professionals that flock to Les Voiles de St. Barth, the regattas program and mix of courses also appeals to a competitive group of amateur and family racers that hone their skills on the growing circuit of Caribbean regattas that take advantage of this sailing paradise.

While not the easiest of destinations to reach some U.S. west coast sailors logged 16+ hours in transit, while others from Europe only slightly less the island of St Barths itself is a welcome reward at the end of the road: a turquoise blue, crystal-clear sea, pristine white sand beaches, and an array of fabulous restaurants just payoff for a long day’s journey.

Francesco Mongelli, navigator onboard Jim Swartz IRC52 Vesper, is here racing in St Barth’s for the first time. The Italian sailor, who sails primarily in Europe, has been racing with the Vesper crew since last October, and was clearly keen to have touched down in this French paradise, Its a mix of all the best sailing places, together with perfect weather and good food. Having spent the afternoon in a tender carefully checking out the coastline and charted (and uncharted) rock outcroppings, Mongelli added, Its pretty similar to Porto Cervo, the difference is that there you more or less know where everything is, and the charts are accurate. You cannot take the same risk here that wed take in Porto Cervo.

Atmosphere on the dockside at Les Voiles de Saint Barth © Christophe Jouany  Les Voiles de St. Barth

Atmosphere on the dockside at Les Voiles de Saint Barth © Christophe Jouany Les Voiles de St. Barth

Racing will run from Tuesday, April 3 to Saturday, April 7 and will feature a mix of Olympic triangles, short coastal courses, and a 20-30 nautical mile round-the island race. The fleet will be split into seven classes: Maxi (> 21 meters), IRC52 (former TP52s that have been optimized for the IRC rule), Spinnaker I + II, Non-Spinnaker (racer/cruiser), Classic (vintage/traditional), and Multihull. Thursday is a layday at Nikki Beach, with lunch and a full afternoon of activities, including a paddleboard competition.

New this year, Les Voiles will offer real-time race tracking with 2D visualization via the internet. Waypoint-Tracking developed the system in close collaboration with ISAF. The site will allow enthusiasts to follow the daily racing action live or to replay at a later time.

Many of the competing boats are moored stern-to at the Quai General de Gaulle, site of the Race Village, where all of the daily breakfast and post-race activities and music take place. This evening, skippers and tacticians were on hand for the Skippers Briefing led by Loic Ponceau, Race Committee Chairman, and organizers Francois Tolede, Luc Poupon, and Annelisa Gee. Following that was Les Voiles St. Barth Opening Ceremony, where Bruno Magras, President of the Collectivit of St. Barth, welcomed more than 500 sailors to the weeklong event.

A regular and enthusiastic competitor in the Caribbean, Sir Peter Harrison was named the godfather or patron of this year’s Les Voiles. Harrison, owner of the 115-foot Farr-designed Sojana yacht, told the crowd, “As a visitor from England to this beautiful French island, one of the most beautiful in the West Indies, I’m thrilled to be asked to the patron of Les Voiles. Bon vent Les Voiles de St. Barth, and good luck, everyone!”

Also sailing on sailing yacht Sojana is Lionel Pan, who is also back for his third Les Voiles. He said, “Obviously there are plenty of good reasons to be here, and to come back every year with the same enthusiasm: this place is made for sailing. In a very short time, Les Voiles de St. Barth has become the place to be, very much like Saint Tropez in the Mediterranean. And the word is spreading around. Shortly there will be a waiting list to be a part of the event!”

Whisper heads out to practice for Les Voiles de Saint Barth © Christophe Jouany  Les Voiles de St. Barth

Whisper heads out to practice for Les Voiles de Saint Barth © Christophe Jouany Les Voiles de St. Barth

The weather forecast for the next few days calls for light winds, though the breeze is expected to increase throughout the week. Racing is scheduled to start tomorrow, Tuesday, April 3, two miles northwest of Sugarloaf Rock off Gustavia; one race is scheduled with a start time of 12noon.

BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival 2012: Farr 400 sailing yacht Blade wins the 2012 Nanny Cay Cup

March 30, 2012

Big breeze as well as ocean swell offered a right motivation to the sailors in the Nanny Cay Cup. The 22-mile race from Virgin Gorda to Nanny Cay Marina in Tortola was an amazing spectacle. The 34-yacht fleet took pleasure in a blasting reach through the foaming waters of The Sir Francis Drake Channel in fabulous Caribbean sunshine.

Winner of the 2012 Nanny Cay Cup - Michael Shlens´ Farr 400 sailing yacht Blade

Winner of the 2012 Nanny Cay Cup - Michael Shlens Farr 400 sailing yacht Blade

However, Peter Aschenbrenner’s 63ft Trimaran yacht Paradox was given a separate course outside the channel. The giant multihull was searing through the ocean swell, often close to airborne and consistently hitting speeds in excess of 20 knots. Paradox completed their 25-mile course in just one hour and 40 minutes.

In the Racing Class, Michael Shlens Farr 400 sailing yacht Blade, cut through the surf with precision to beat sistership, Doug Baker’s Magnitude, by over four minutes. Blade took the corrected time win in the Racing Class with Blade in second place. Third was Bill Alcott’s STP 65 yacht Equation which was the first monohull home by a significant margin. Blade had world-class tactician, Dee Smith on board.

“The Farr 400 just loves these conditions,” commented Dee. “The all carbon structure means that Blade gets on the plane easily and the reach through the channel was a real joy. So far 10, Farr400s have been built and they are spread out all over the world, but it would be great to have a full class enjoying these fabulous conditions.”

There was high drama in the Cruising Class with a tie for first place on corrected time. BVI skipper, Antonio Sanpere with a crew from the Naval Academy Sailing Squadron is racing his J36 yacht Cayennita Grande. The local boat corrected out to exactly the same time as Shamrock VII owned by Boston sailor, Thomas Mullen. However, Shamrock VII and Alan Fougere’s J/160 Avatar results are subject to a protest hearing.

In the Bareboat Class, Leonard Nekeman’s Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 44i yacht Lucky Dutch took line honours by some margin. Neil Harvey’s Dufour 425 yacht Acadia was next to finish but only a single second ahead of Hans Schrederhof’s Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 44i. The rest of the fleet were not far behind; a ball of boats competing for places meant that the entire chasing pack finished within minutes of each other. After time correction, the winner was actually the last boat to finish, Peter Rutkowski’s Beneteau Oceanis 361 yacht Perelandra. Bill Petersen and Peter Stazicker’s Team Trolly Car were just 10 seconds off the winning time in second place from Neil Harvey’s Acadia, which claimed third.

Tonight the official Opening Party for the 41st BVI Spring Regatta took place and Michael Shlens Farr 400 sailing yacht Blade was awarded the Nanny Cay Cup for their outstanding performance in the Racing Division, especially by beating another one design Farr 400 by a significant margin but also for correcting out ahead of STP65 yacht Equation, which is significantly larger that the 38 foot Farr 40.